Leaving the Park for meals

Version 6

Mouseketeer
Joined
May 6, 2019
I have a random question about leaving the parks for meals during the day.

We will be staying on property in mid Jan, so I'm starting to look into our dining options.

If we intend to leave the parks for dinner, but return after dinner - would it be best to stay within downtown disney (rather than eating at one of the hotels) to avoid having to go through security again?

Also, we wanted to do a late character breakfast on the morning of my son's birthday, but wanted to take advantage of EMH first. Again - would it be best to stick to Plaza Inn (rather than Storytellers or Goofy's) to avoid having to do a security checkpoint coming back into the park?
 

Plip

Oh, bother
Joined
Sep 9, 2019
It might depend on when you're going to be there -- that is, how crowded the parks are. We were there the week before last, when the parks were (relatively) uncrowded. And there were a couple of days that I ran back to the hotel across the street at right around dinner time. And it was nothing to get back through security. A few minutes, tops.
 

Version 6

Mouseketeer
Joined
May 6, 2019
Ok thanks.

Is there much of a line to get back into the parks at the front gates around that time (after 7pm)?
 

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  • Plip

    Oh, bother
    Joined
    Sep 9, 2019
    I completely depends. There were times we went between parks in the evenings when you could find a gate there was no one at. But one night we left DCA after World of Color (and as DCA was closing that night), and the lines to get into DLP was probably 50 people deep. But even at that, it don't think it was more than 10 minutes.

    I imagine it might be longer if it was right before a parade and lots of locals were coming in or something, but I didn't have that experience.
     

    lalasmama

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 25, 2011
    With a mid-Jan visit, you shouldn't have a problem. Security lines move pretty darn quick; usually less then 5 minutes per party. So, I wouldn't let that be a consideration, personally. Likewise, the lines at the gates go pretty quickly. Except for the 30 minutes before park openings, the lines move quickly.

    That being said, I make no promises if you are going to be there 1/17 or the days after, since that's when the Rise of the Resistance ride will open.
     

    Version 6

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 6, 2019
    With a mid-Jan visit, you shouldn't have a problem. Security lines move pretty darn quick; usually less then 5 minutes per party. So, I wouldn't let that be a consideration, personally. Likewise, the lines at the gates go pretty quickly. Except for the 30 minutes before park openings, the lines move quickly.

    That being said, I make no promises if you are going to be there 1/17 or the days after, since that's when the Rise of the Resistance ride will open.
    Thanks for that. Purely by chance, 17/1 is our last park day.

    So for the character breakfast on the 16th, it should be no issue to head to Disneyland for EMH, leave to get to Storytellers for 9:40, then head back into the park?

    On a sort of related subject, which of the character meals would you suggest? Is Storytellers better than Plaza Inn?
     

    lalasmama

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 25, 2011
    Leaving DL for a reservation at Storytellers on 1/16/19 shouldn't be a problem at all. Other than 1/1, the parks don't hit capacity in January, and security lines move pretty quickly generally.

    As for character meals, I'm afraid I'm not much help. We haven't done one in ages (well, 7.5 years), and only did Minnie's. What we liked about Minnie's (which sound like the same all these years later):
    • Variety of Characters--some my then-7yo daughter knew, and some she didn't. But I knew them well! And it's not like Rafiki is meeting people at any other location in the parks at any other time, so that was pretty awesome.
    • Since it is in the parks, no walk to/from the parks to get to the meal, which maximized the time spent in the parks.
    • We knew we would love several of the characters in the normal rotation (Minnie, Tigger, Eeyore).
    • Buffet-style meal meant that kiddo could eat 2841537 Mickey waffles if she was so inclined. (Instead, she ate 4 bites, and was done. At a buffet. 4 bites. Seriously. 4 bites. 7 years later, I still remember those 4 bites, haha.)
    • I like the history of the Plaza Inn. I'm pretty enthralled by the life of Mr. Disney and early Disneyland, so eating there was pretty special for me (he used to entertain guests there before it was called Plaza Inn).
     
  • bajadahl

    I am the Pirate your mom warned you about!!!
    Joined
    Feb 10, 2012
    Thanks for that. Purely by chance, 17/1 is our last park day.

    So for the character breakfast on the 16th, it should be no issue to head to Disneyland for EMH, leave to get to Storytellers for 9:40, then head back into the park?

    On a sort of related subject, which of the character meals would you suggest? Is Storytellers better than Plaza Inn?
    I'll jump in here to give my opinion... YMMV..... I rank the Character Breakfasts like this...

    1. Storytellers - Best food
    2. Plaza - Best Location and Good Food
    A Distant 3. Goofy's - That is a dang long walk and meh food...

    (I've actually never taken the time to go over to the PCH Grill at Paradise Pier Hotel) - Personally think it's too far off the beaten path but I'm sure there are short cuts... I think I've heard of people cutting through GC but it was never a must do for us.

    If time in the parks is most important Plaza wins because it's right there.
    But Storytellers is a quick walk especially from California Adventure and get's my vote if I have the time.
    We avoid Goofy's after several very mediocre visits... It's the closest thing to Chef Mickey's in theme but the food is very average.

    Of course if you ask my wife.... Ariel's Grotto wins hands down and she still shakes her head every time we walk by the Lamp Light Lounge. (not to confuse the issue but Ariel's closed a couple years ago). The new princess breakfast at the Napa Rose gave us too much sticker shock so we haven't tried it yet.
     

    theluckyrabbit

    Moderator
    Moderator
    Joined
    Jul 23, 2012
    The general consensus on the character meals goes something like this:
    Best food: Storytellers for regular character meal/NR for super expensive meal
    Most characters: Minnie's at Plaza Inn -- posters report meeting 9-11 characters on average here
    Dinner: Goofy's is the only choice here -- kick off your park visit with dinner here the night before you start your first park day
    Need to see Stitch? Donald's is the winner here -- this is one of the smaller character meals so the interaction tends to be good
    Need to see Princesses? NR -- be prepared to spend a LOT for this, but the interaction is very good
     
    Last edited:

    limace

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 31, 2007
    The characters at Plaza are really fabulous-we’ve done it twice and if you love character interaction, it’s hard to beat. But I’d compare the food to a free hotel breakfast-very mediocre for the price.
     

    Aurora0427

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 24, 2014
    The characters at Plaza are really fabulous-we’ve done it twice and if you love character interaction, it’s hard to beat. But I’d compare the food to a free hotel breakfast-very mediocre for the price.
    Exactly. We loved the characters, but the food was just meh. Best character interactions we’ve had.
     
  • JohnneeO

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 1, 2012
    1. Storytellers - Best food

    But Storytellers is a quick walk especially from California Adventure and get's my vote if I have the time.
    The access to Storytellers through the GCH entrance to DCA is the best. Exit the park, turn the corner, and boom(!) you are there. In reverse, you can be back in DCA less then five minutes after you exit Storytellers. We did this last year for a early November weekday 1 PM lunch, and we were in the restaurant and back in the park so quickly (after eating) it felt like we had just eaten in the park.
     

    lcp9

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 14, 2016
    Goofy's is a long haul, but we've done it early morning and been back to the park right around open (I think? trying to remember, but we definitely didn't miss much park time.) We were all underwhelmed by Plaza Inn even though it was more convenient. Food was definitely meh with less variety, more characters but a lot of characters my kids didn't care about. My husband says Goofy's is the only one even close to worth the money. haha.
     

    disneylover102

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 31, 2017
    This isn’t very fancy but often times we just go to McDonald’s across the street. Long security lines have never been an issue.
     

    goooof1

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 23, 2013
    Storyteller's has the best food.... Plaza Inn has the most characters.... we've always seen 10 - 12 and the food is fine there.
     

    JadeDarkstar

    Dis Veteran Pirate dragon mom
    Joined
    Jun 2, 2007
    this is the first time we won't be doing a car meal but plaza inn normally had 8chrs easy so if Chris are your thing when we went it was the best. We all enjoyed the food too. The kid is 17 now and we all are going to try the desert woc instead of a car meal or F meal.
     

    chrisaman

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Sep 3, 2013
    I wouldn't worry about security lines from the hotels. I have never had to wait long. The harbor side on the other hand can be crazy in the evening at times so I prob wouldn't go that way for food myself. It is really hit and miss there
     

    wendlle

    Aussie Wendy
    Joined
    Jan 7, 2014
    • Buffet-style meal meant that kiddo could eat 2841537 Mickey waffles if she was so inclined. (Instead, she ate 4 bites, and was done. At a buffet. 4 bites. Seriously. 4 bites. 7 years later, I still remember those 4 bites, haha.)
    LOL this made me laugh, because we paid for our 3yo to go to the HEA Dessert party at MK this past September, she ate 1/2 a cake. THAT'S IT! For something like $70 she had 1/2 a cake!
     

    lalasmama

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 25, 2011
    LOL this made me laugh, because we paid for our 3yo to go to the HEA Dessert party at MK this past September, she ate 1/2 a cake. THAT'S IT! For something like $70 she had 1/2 a cake!
    It's been 7.5 years and I *still* think about those 4 bites. And she was 7! What 7yo only eats 4 bites at a buffet?!

    She had to convince me to do a dining experience years later, because I was still gun shy! Lol.
     

    crystal1313

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 25, 2012
    It's been 7.5 years and I *still* think about those 4 bites. And she was 7! What 7yo only eats 4 bites at a buffet?!

    She had to convince me to do a dining experience years later, because I was still gun shy! Lol.
    This is why we haven't done a buffet with my boys! We figure we will when they are tennagers and eat us out of house and home! LOL.
     

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